To punish or not to punish?

Punishment or no punishment? To me it comes down to how you think about it.

Every time I have a competition at practice I like to have everybody run afterwards. Everybody. But… At the end the winners get to shoot a foul shot. If they make the shot they don’t run. If they miss they run half the distance.

To me that’s positive reinforcement. You do something well and good things happen. That means you want to do more things well. Also you know that if the game is on the line good things happen if you do well.

If you punish for mistakes you teach kids that bad things happen if they mess up. That makes them afraid of making mistakes. At the end of the game they are afraid to make the mistake and to have bad things happen – so they make the mistake because that’s all they can think about.

In general, in coaching you don’t want to coach mistakes. If you say “don’t throw the ball away” you create the image of throwing the ball away in the mind and that’s what the mind focuses on. If you say “take care of the ball” the mind focuses on that.

Could you have everybody run – but then REWARD the kids that do it right by giving them a free pass and some praise?

I know a lot of big time college programs use punishment a lot. Could you imagine the energy it would bring to the film sessions if you started taking away runs when good things happened? Wouldn’t they really want to do better, strive to be perfect? Instead of dreading mistakes?

You could still point out the same mistakes and just say “We have to keep this run in because…”.

I don’t know, but to me it makes sense…

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